HB12 -1264, introduced by Representative Judy Solano, observes that Colorado’s efforts to incorporate distributed generation (DG) from renewable sources could be improved through the adoption of updated standards for interconnection between customer-generators of DG and the utility-owned distribution networks into which they feed power.
The reasons for moving this fully non-partisan legislation forward at this time are threefold:
1. Colorado’s advances in energy development through the use of in-state renewable sources have earned the state a grade of “A” for net metering but only a “B” for interconnection standards;
2. With only minor revisions, Colorado’s rules for interconnection could move the state to a grade of “A” and allow Colorado’s residents and businesses to reap the potential rewards of
— lower energy costs and greater energy security,
— both short-term and long-term job creation, and
— less dependence on out-of-state and foreign sources of energy through additional distributed generation here in Colorado
3. The Colorado Public Utilities commission has adopted interconnection standards based on orders of the federal energy regulatory commission dating from 2006. While these standards represent an advance over the prior state of the art, Colorado’s energy development can be further enhanced with updated information derived from more recent experience as outlined in the recommendations of the interstate renewable energy council. To address this, HB 1264 directs the PUC to work with a task force on DG interconnection issues, to meet during the 2012 interim, and produce an initial report to specified committees of the general assembly concerning ways in which interconnection and related issues could be addressed in order to further facilitate the deployment of DG from renewable sources in Colorado. Specifically, the PUC and task force will consider rules on interconnection, insurance requirements and transparency, using as a basis the recommended standards developed by the interstate renewable energy council.
HB 1264 would serve to codify best interconnection standards in Colorado; yet it has already been expressed that the bill will likely not even make it out of the House, Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee to which it was assigned.
Educating people and rallying support for this legislation is critical for its success.
Clean Energy Action’s Research Director, Leslie Glustrom, has recently been barred from intervening as an individual citizen in two cases before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the agency that regulates such issues as Xcel Energy’s ability to increase consumer rates, to modify existing coal plants, or to convert coal plants to natural gas plants. This decision by the PUC potentially sets the precedent of ending over 40 years of public participation.
The statute, CRS 40-6-109, (summarized below) states that Colorado law allows anyone who is “interested in or affected by” a decision to formally participate in the intervention process at the Public Utilities Commission, and that they are allowed to do that either “in person or by attorney.” Under this statutory authority and representing herself, Glustrom has interevened on a voluntary basis in numerous dockets that affect Colorado rate payers.
However, the Chairman of the Colorado PUC, Josh Epel, has recently ruled that he does not intend to follow the previous interpretation of the above-mentioned statute. Glustrom has appealed the PUC decision (C11-0987) to ban her participation arguing a constitutional right to due process and that this right to intervene and participate fully is also provided by Colorado statutes.
The key points of the Commission’s decision and Glustrom’s response are found in this “RRR” (Rehearing, Reargument or Reconsideration) document.
More information can be found at Clean Energy Action’s webpage: Public Utilities Commission.
The exact date when the Commission will rule on Glustrom’s appeal is not known, but is expected to be at a Wednesday morning PUC meeting. Clean Energy Action will let you know when the date is announced in hopes that you can attend in solidarity and to be a witness to how the Colorado PUC decides on whether there will be any “public” at the Public Utilities Commission. Business attire and respectful behavior are kindly requested. There will be no opportunity for public comment.
If you would like to take additional action, contact your legislator — or write the firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know you want the public to be able to participate in decisions affecting your rates and utility investment decisions.
Submitted by Leslie Glustrom
On February 8, 2011, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission published Decision C11-0139 withholding $16 million from Xcel until the utility is able to demonstrate a “coherent and valuable future” for the Smart Grid City (“SCG”) project in Boulder, Colorado.
Decision C11-0139 is attached below.
In particular, the PUC asked Xcel to demonstrate:
- A strategic plan for the use of the Smart Grid City investment
- A credible promise of consumer and utility benefits sufficient to justify the cost overruns
- The ability of customers to make practical use of the Smart Grid City on their side of the meter through in-home devices.
- (See paragraph 19, page 6 Decision C11-0139, Colorado PUC)
The Commission summarized its position on the Smart Grid City project saying:
In summary, this Commission believes that the Company needs to re-boot the SGC project and restore some of the promise this concept originally held. (Paragraph 23, page 7, Decision C11-0139, Colorado PUC).
Xcel has 20 days to contest the decision through the PUC appeal process.